Christian & I travelled to China last week. We spent three days in Shanghai, one day in Guangzhou and one day in Hong Kong. It was my first time to China and Christian’s first trip to Shanghai, but he had already visited Guangzhou and Hong Kong. All three cities were very different. It was a quick trip but we got to see many great sights, eat and enjoy really warm weather.
We tried to hit all the top tourist sights in Shanghai. On our major sightseeing day, we started out with a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple. It is an active Buddhist monastery and the temple was built between 1918 & 1928. Christian rubbed the Laughing Buddha’s belly for good luck.
We visited the Old Town, which is filled with shops, markets and restaurants. We walked through the Bazaar, which was filled with souvenir shops & people asking us if we wanted to buy fake watches or bags. We declined. We took a picture of the famous Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse but didn’t go in. I was stared at quite a bit while visiting the Old Town. Christian said most people weren’t used to seeing such a tall, white girl!! We also went into the Fabric Market, which is a large building divided into stalls filled with fabric. At any of the stalls you can have clothes custom made for you, with the help of the tailors and pictures of clothes. If we had more time, I would have loved to have had some clothes made for me.
We stopped at the Grand Hyatt in Pudong for afternoon tea. The tea menu had an Asian influence, which included fresh fruit, fish sandwiches & a few sweets. We also got a great view of the Shanghai skyline. The view from Pudong looking across the water to The Bund. The soon to be tallest building in Shanghai, the Shanghai Tower is expected to be completed in 2014.
Our hotel was located in the French Concession area, which is a part of Shanghai that the French occupied for quite some time. There is a lot of French architecture that can be seen, as well as many trendy shops and restaurants. We visited two unique shopping/dining areas in the French Connection. The first one was Xintiandi, which has many upscale shops (e.g Harry Winston) and restaurants, including a German pub. It consists of a main pedestrian street, with the traditional shikumen houses that have been remodeled. Except for these houses, I think this pedestrian mall could be located in any US city. These shikumen (stone gate) houses were built by the French & British starting in the 1850’s.
Tianzifang is very different from Xintiandi. This shopping/dining complex was made up of a bunch of alleyways and if you didn’t look carefully, you wouldn’t find the entrance. I didn’t get many good pictures, but it was filled with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, cafes and typical souvenir shops.
There are tons of cars and taxis on the road, but the real people you need to watch out for are the ones on bicycles or mopeds. During rush hour, there are swarms of bicyclists on the street corners and the mopeds will just come up onto the sidewalk and honk until you move out of the way. I believe the traffic lights are only a suggestion, as people cross the street whenever they feel like it and cars do some crazy maneuvers. I was nervous wreck every time we got into a taxi. They also used mopeds and bicyclists to carry many large items, such as the chairs pictured below.
We still have more the share of Shanghai, so stay tuned!